(Previous post: Parties and Misunderstandings)
When Zeke opened his eyes that morning all he saw was green, lots and lots of green. He blinked a few times trying to remember where he was. There was a warm bed underneath him, but it wasn’t his bed, or his room. As he scanned the walls he saw diplomas, sport awards and trophies and he realized it must have been Marty’s brother’s room.
He wondered where Ollie Gradle woke up that morning feeling guilty he usurped the young man’s room. His memories of last night were rather foggy, he couldn’t believe he had gotten drunk again… But it was hard to say no to Marty’s father who kept passing him the beers and patting his back. He groaned loudly as he tried to get up. His head didn’t hurt as badly as the other day but his throat was parched.
It was then, right on cue that the door opened and Marty walked in with a smile on her face and a glass of orange juice in her hand. “Morning.” She said as she sat on the foot of his bed. Take this, my mum said you could use it. Zeke smiled wordlessly and drank up the contents of the glass.
“Thanks.” He said when he was done and Marty smiled.
“There is more downstairs. And a proper breakfast, pancakes and fresh apples. Ollie picked them in our garden the other day.”
“I think I should head home…” Zeke said getting up. “I don’t want to impose on your family…”
“Nonsense.” Marty said. “You are not imposing, it’s just breakfast, come on.” And so Zeke got up and followed her downstairs. Marty had a strange jump in her step this morning he noticed.He also noticed she was wearing a dress he hadn’t seen before. It was short, and light blue, the color of the summer sky. It suited her nicely but it was a weird choice for the season, and for breakfast with her family.
“Isn’t it a little too col for that dress?” He asked concerned.
“Don’t be silly, it’s a beautiful day today.” Marty said and winked.
Marty’s family was a large and cheerful bunch. There were seven of them living under one roof, eight if you counted their little dog Suzi. There was Marty’s little brother Ollie who was anything but little, he was the tallest in the house and he was trying to get to the Llamas basketball A-team while working part time at the grocery store. He was the one in charge of making everyone laugh, he could turn anything into a joke and one could listen to him talk for hours. Once, back in high school he had asked Lucky out, even if he was years younger then her. Lucky turned him down gently but Zeke wished she hadn’t. He had nothing against her current boyfriend Ahmed but how cool it would have been if he and his sister married into the same family?
Marty’s parents were both retired, her mum worked in the police force, and used to be Zeke’s dad’s boss. She retired shortly after his death. Marty’s dad worked a lot of different jobs in his lifetime, Zeke remembered him best as a teacher from his school, but he thought younger kids though. Now he had his own rock band where he played bass. The bend was called “Smoke” and although they had some gigs in the past Zeke had never listened to them live.
And then there was Marty’s grandfather, his second wife and youngest son. Zeke was always feeling weird around the old man. It was strange to see someone you spent a lifetime watching on TV, posters, billboards, everywhere, now sitting and eating breakfast surrounded by family. He was nothing like a stereotypical rock star. He was fun polite and down to earth. His wife was not what you would expect a rock stars’s second wife to be either. Zeke recalled seeing pictures of her, in his sisters’ magazines back when they were in high school. She had seemed beautiful then, and he reckoned she still was but there was something very hard in the way she looked.
Zeke heard from Marty she was in the army and as he could see the army was in her too. She had short gray hair, and dark, unforgiving blue eyes. She had a stiff formal stance and she didn’t speak much. There was something cold and strict on her face and Zeke barely ever spoke to her.
Their son, Marty’s little uncle on the other hand was just what you would expect a little boy to be. He had a happy smiling face and a devilish look in his eyes and Zeke caught him feeding Suzi bits of something under the table.
All in all it was a pleasant morning for Zeke. His hangover was going away and he felt happy, it reminded him of his childhood, back when his dad was alive…
Zeke tried to leave several times but Marty and her family somehow managed to keep him there all day. He was surprised to see the sun was already setting when Marty took him outside. It was peaceful there, in the Gradle’s backyard but the look in Marty’s eyes told Zeke there was something else rather than peace and quiet that brought them there.
“What is it?” He asked carefully. Marty smiled.
“It is so lovely here when the sun is setting… If we were to got hat fence we could see all the way to the ocean… We could see the lighthouse and all the bright colors on the sky and the sea… Would you like me to show you?”
“Sure.” Zeke said and let her lead him to the very edge of their spacious garden. The sky did have a lovely pink color. It was breathtaking but not as was the look on Marty’s face as she absorbed it all.
She caught Zeke staring and smiled at him.
“There is one more thing I wanted to show you here.” She said and led him all the way to the other end. Zeke had not noticed it was still standing there, but it was, little changed from the one he saw in all those pictures, a wedding arch… His throat suddenly went dry.
“Is this where your grandfather plans for us to marry?” He asked and Marty nodded.
“Right here.” When Zeke said nothing she continued. “But it is not just my grandfather that wants us to marry right here, it’s me too… And I want to do it right now!” Zeke turned to her alarmed. She was smiling and he was speechless.
“Are you sure?” He asked and she nodded.
“I have already told everyone and they would all be here for the ceremony, if you agree that is.”
“Of course I do.” Zeke said quickly, afraid she might run off again. But she didn’t.
It was fifteen minutes later that right there Zeke put a golden band on Martha Gradle’s finger making her Martha Mayor, his beloved wife. She was smiling and so was Zeke. He could hardly stop. He felt it was all a dream and he might wake up any moment….
Marty’s family had been there, just like she had wanted. Her father watched the ceremony while jumping on the trampoline which her mother obviously disapproved but said nothing, Ollie and Gaemon clapped loudly and Suzi joined in barking loudly. Zeke turned to Marty’s grandfather and noticed the man just looking them with a sad look in his eyes. It must be weird for him to see his granddaughter married… Zeke thought.
He didn’t have to time to come up to the old man or talk to him because he was pushed aside by Ollie who was saying something about photographers and pictures and Zeke was all lost thinking only about his lovely bride…